Daily Prelims Notes 30 September 2023
- September 30, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
30 September 2023
Table Of Contents
- Pink Bollworm is wreaking havoc on cotton fields
- Public debt
- High-speed rail (HSR)
- Remembering M.S. Swaminathan’s Legacy of ecological conservation
- Various pathogens increasingly becoming resistant to critically important antimicrobials: ICMR report
Subject : Geography
Section: Economic geography
Context: Pink ballworm has caused widespread damage in Haryana and Punjab
Pink ballworm (PBW):
It is one of the most destructive pests of cotton.
Distribution: Originally native to India, it is now recorded in nearly all the cotton-growing countries of the world.
- The adults are small moths about 3/8 inch long and are dark brown with markings on the fore wing.
- The larval stage is the destructive and identifiable stage.
- The larvae have distinctive pink bands and can reach a length of ½ inches right before they pupate.
- Adults lay eggs on cotton bolls; once hatched, the larvae eat the seeds and damage the fibers of the cotton, reducing the yield and quality.
- When the larvae mature, they cut out the boll and drop to the ground and cocoon near the soil surface.
- It has also been observed to attack hibiscus, okra, and hollyhock plants.
- The PBW larvae burrow into the developing fruits (bolls) of cotton plants, and the damage affects both the weight and quality of the harvested bolls containing the lint fibre and seeds inside.
Symptoms of Damage
- Rosetted flowers.
- Excreta observed at the point of bore holes by larval feeding. .
- Interlocular boring and formation of double seeds.
- The attacked buds and immature bolls drop off. Discoloured lint and burrowed seeds.
- Cotton is the most important commercial crop of our country contributing upto 75% of total raw material needs of textile industry and provides employment to about 60 million people.
- India has the largest area under cotton cultivation with relatively low productivity primarily due to the large area under rainfed cultivation with inadequate supply of inputs.
- Area wise, India ranks first in world, whereas, it ranks second in production next to China.
- Only in India, all the four spinnable fibre yielding species of Gossypium viz., Gossypium hirsutum, G. barbadense, G. arboreum and G. herbaceum are cultivated commercially.
- Hybrid cotton cultivation in about 45% of total cotton area contributing 55% of production is a significant milestone achievement in Indian Cotton scenario.
- Cotton is attacked by several insect pests reducing the crop yield to a greater extent. The insect pests that attack cotton crop may be classified into sap sucking insects (Aphids, Jassids and White fly) or chewing insects (Bollworms, leaf eating caterpillars etc.). Of the total pesticides used in Indian Agriculture, about 45 per cent is sprayed on cotton crop alone. To reduce pesticide usage in cotton, several strategies like use of Genetic Resistance to insect pests, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Insecticide Resistance Management (IRM) etc. are advocated. In recent times, Bt cotton technology is found to be one of the best strategies to manage bollworms, the most important pest of cotton.
The Need for Bt cotton
- The genetic resistance, one of the important pest management strategy, is available in cotton gene pool against the sap sucking pests such as jassids, whitefly etc and using this several resistant / tolerant varieties and hybrids have been developed and released in India. However, such kind of known resistance is not available against the bollworms. Hence, an alternate strategy is explored to circumvent this problem by cloning and transferring the genes encoding the toxic crystal δ – endo toxin protein from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. The Bt transgenic cotton (Bollgard of Monsanto) has thus been developed successfully in USA, which has the ability to control the bollworms at the early stages of crop growth (upto 90 days) effectively.
- The first commercial Bt cotton variety was released in USA by M/S. Monsanto (Bollgard), which contains Cry 1Ac gene of Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt cotton is commercially grown in several countries like China, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, India, Indonesia etc. World wide the area under Bt cotton keep increasing year by year. Overall, about 12% of the world cotton is now planted with Genetically Modified varieties / hybrids (GMO) and ICAC has estimated that his may rise to 50 % in 5-7 years.
Section: Fiscal Policy
Context: Government’s total gross debt increased by 2.2 per cent quarter on quarter t o ₹159.53 lakh crore in April June this fiscal, a Finance Ministry report said. The liabilities stood at ₹156.08lakhcrore at March end.
- Since Apr-June (Q1) 2010-11, Public Debt Management Cell (PDMC), Budget Division, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance has been bringing out a quarterly report on debt management on a regular basis. The current report pertains to the quarter April-June (Q1 FY24).
- During Q1 of FY24, the Central Government on issuance/settlement basis of dated securities raised gross amount worth ₹4,08,000 crore and ₹2,71,415 crore after adjusting for switches. The weighted average yield (WAY) of issuances during the quarter stood at 7.13% and it was 7.34% for Q4 FY23. The weighted average maturity (WAM) of the issuances worked out to 17.58 years for Q1 FY24 and 16.58 for Q4 FY23. The gross amount raised through 91-day, 182-day and 364-day Treasury Bills during the quarter amounted to ₹4,96,266 crore while total repayments were ₹3,07,278 crore. During April-June 2023, the cash position of the Central Government remained in surplus mostly.
- Total gross liabilities (including liabilities under the ‘Public Account’) of the Government, as per provisional data, increased marginally to ₹1,59,53,703 crore at end- June 2023 from ₹1,56,08,634 crore at end- March 2023.This represented a quarter-on-quarter increase of 2.2 per cent in Q1 FY24. Further, nearly 26.6 per cent of the outstanding dated securities had a residual maturity of less than 5 years.
- The yield on the 10-year benchmark security softened from 7.31% at the close of the quarter on March 31st , 2023 to 7.12% at the close on June 30th, 2023, thus softening by 19 bps during the quarter.
- In secondary market, trading activities were concentrated in 7–10-year maturity bucket during the quarter mainly because of more trading observed in 10-year benchmark security. Private sector banks emerged as dominant trading segment in secondary market during the quarter under review with a share of 22.59 per cent in “Buy” deals and 25.00 per cent in “Sell” deals in the total outright trading activity, followed by foreign banks, public sector banks, primary dealers, and mutual fund. On a net basis, foreign banks, insurance companies, private sector banks and primary dealers were net sellers while public sector banks, co-operative banks, FIs, mutual funds and ‘Others’ were net buyers in the secondary market.
What is Public Debt?
- In the Indian context, public debt includes the total liabilities of the Union government that have to be paid from the Consolidated Fund of India.
- Sometimes, the term is also used to refer to the overall liabilities of the central and state governments.
- However, the Union government clearly distinguishes its debt liabilities from those of the states.
- It calls overall liabilities of both the Union government and states as General Government Debt (GGD) or Consolidated General Government Debt.
- Union government relies heavily on market borrowing to meet its operational and developmental expenditure. The study of public debt involves the study of various factors such as debt-to-GDP ratio, and sustainability and sources of government debt.
- The fact that almost a fourth of the government expenditure goes into interest payment explains the magnitude of the liabilities of the Union government.
What are the types of Public Debt?
- The Union government broadly classifies its liabilities into two broad categories.
- The debt contracted against the Consolidated Fund of India is defined as public debt and includes all other funds received outside Consolidated Fund of India under Article 266 (2) of the Constitution, where the government merely acts as a banker or custodian.
- The second type of liabilities is called public account.
Internal Public Debt versus External Public Debt
- Over the years, the Union government has followed a considered strategy to reduce its dependence on foreign loans in its overall loan mix.
- External loans are not market loans. They have been raised from institutional creditors at concessional rates. Most of these external loans are fixed-rate loans, free from interest rate or currency volatility.
- Internal debt constitutes more than 93% of the overall public debt.
- Internal loans that make up for the bulk of public debt are further divided into two broad categories – marketable and non-marketable debt.
- Dated government securities (G-Secs) and treasury bills (T-bills) are issued through auctions and fall in the category of marketable debt.
- Intermediate treasury bills (with a maturity period of 14 days) issued to state governments and public sector banks, special securities issued to National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) are classified as non-marketable debt.
- Internal loans that make up for the bulk of public debt are further divided into two broad categories – marketable and non-marketable debt.
Sources of Public Debt
- Dated government securities or G-secs.
- Treasury Bills or T-bills
- External Assistance
- Short term borrowings
- Public Debt definition by Union Government
The Union government describes those of its liabilities as public debt, which are contracted against the Consolidated Fund of India. This is as per Article 292 of the Constitution.
Public Debt Management in India
- As per Reserve Bank of India Act of 1934, the Reserve Bank is both the banker and public debt manager for the Union government.
- The RBI handles all the money, remittances, foreign exchange and banking transactions on behalf of the Government.
- The Union government also deposits its cash balance with the RBI.
Public Debt versus Private Debt
- Public Debt is the money owed by the Union government, while private debt comprises of all the loans raised by private companies, corporate sector and individuals such as home loans, auto loans, personal loans.
What is Debt-to-GDP ratio?
- The debt-to-GDP ratio indicates how likely the country can pay off its debt. Investors often look at the debt-to-GDP metric to assess the government’s ability of finance its debt. Higher debt-to-GDP ratios have fuelled economic crises worldwide.
- The NK Singh Committee on FRBM had envisaged a debt-to-GDP ratio of 40 per cent for the central government and 20 per cent for states aiming for a total of 60 per cent general government debt-to-GDP.
Suggested measures to make public debt sustainable –
- Privatisation of loss-making PSUs
- Prudential stance as per the Fiscal Responsibility Budget Management (FRBM) Act 2003
- Leveraging of Public Financial Management System (PFMS)
- PPP model in social schemes
- Investment in infrastructure
- Harmonisation of tax regime
- Thrust on renewable energy
Subject: Science and technology
Context: China launched its first high-speed rail line that will travel across several bays and skim along the coast of the southeastern province of Fujian near the Taiwan Strait, state media reported on Thursday.
It is China’s first cross-sea, rapid line with bullet trains that will travel over bridges across three coastal bays and hit top speeds of 350 km per hour (218 mph), state media said, citing China State Railway Group Co Ltd, the country’s railway operator.
What is high-speed rail (HSR)
A high-speed rail (HSR) is a type of passenger train service that operates at significantly higher speeds than traditional rail systems. The defining characteristic of HSR is its ability to consistently reach speeds well above those of conventional trains. While there is no universally agreed-upon speed threshold that categorizes a rail service as “high-speed,” HSR typically involves trains that can travel at speeds of 155 mph (250 km/h) or more.
Key features and characteristics of high-speed rail systems include:
High Operating Speeds: HSR trains are designed to operate at much higher speeds than regular trains, allowing for faster travel between cities and regions.
Dedicated Tracks: HSR often uses dedicated tracks that are separate from existing rail lines and are specially designed to accommodate high speeds. This minimizes interference from slower freight trains or other traffic.
Advanced Technology: HSR trains incorporate cutting-edge technology in areas like aerodynamics, propulsion, and braking systems to maximize efficiency and safety.
Electric Power: Most HSR systems are electrically powered, often using overhead catenary wires or a third rail, which reduces emissions and allows for rapid acceleration and deceleration.
Streamlined Design: High-speed trains typically have streamlined, aerodynamic shapes to reduce air resistance and improve fuel efficiency.
High Capacity: HSR trains are designed to carry large numbers of passengers, making them a competitive alternative to air travel for certain routes.
Reduced Travel Times: The primary goal of HSR is to reduce travel times between major cities and regions, making it an attractive option for commuters and long-distance travelers.
Safety Measures: HSR systems incorporate advanced safety features and signaling systems to ensure passenger safety at high speeds.
High-speed rail networks are most commonly found in countries like Japan, France, Germany, China, and Spain, where they have become integral parts of the transportation infrastructure. These systems offer a fast, efficient, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation.
High speed rail in India
At present, Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor is the only sanctioned High Speed Rail Project, which is under execution with technical and financial assistance from Govt. of Japan.
Further, Ministry of Railways has decided to undertake Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the following six High Speed Rail (HSR) corridors:
- Delhi -Varanasi
- Delhi – Ahmedabad
- Mumbai– Nagpur
- Mumbai – Hyderabad
- Chennai – Mysore
- Delhi –Amritsar.
Subject : Environment
Section: Sustainable Development
- Dr. M. S Swaminathan, the renowned agricultural scientist known as the Father of India’s Green Revolution, passed away at his residence in Chennai on September 28 at the age of 98. The Padma Vibhushan awardee was Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and headed the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. He was the first to get the World Food Prize and used the proceeds from the prize to establish the renowned MSSRF non-profit trust.
Ecological conservation approach of Dr. Swaminathan:
- His original biography – “Scientist and Humanist – M.S.Swaminathan” – was written by R.D. Iyer.
- He worked extensively on four aspects of conservation: mangrove ecosystem, biodiversity conservation, genetic conservation and Keystone Dialogues (which pertained to plant genetic resources and biological diversity).
- Centre of diversity for mangrove species: Aims to maintain the genetic diversity of the ecosystem of the Indo-Malaysian region.
- His approach for ecological conservation includes:
- Every country should achieve harmony between human and animal populations, and the natural resource endowments.
- Unless the livelihood security of people was strengthened, conservation of unique natural endowments could become a lost cause in poor and overpopulated countries.
- He argued for the need for an international Protocol on Biosafety under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
- He supported the conservation of native breeds to counter the potential negative impact of crossbreeding.
- He had formulated an educational programme “Every Child a Scientist” to sensitize children of the country’s biological heritage and conservation methods. It is a programme for promoting the theme of conservation agriculture.
- In 1984 he became the President of IUCN and emphasized that:
- IUCN must be Earth-centric rather than Euro-centric.
- Poor and hungry should get as much attention as saving pandas and penguins.
- He asked for promoting afforestation in Africa to reduce the food crisis.
- He developed a three-pronged hunger elimination strategy. He emphasized that our common future depends upon our common present, and that bridging the nutrition divide is fundamental to bridging all other divides.
Subject: Science and Tech
- The Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Surveillance Network of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) released its annual report for 2022.
- This is the sixth report which sheds light on the evolving landscape of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the country.
Key findings of the report:
- A trend of declining susceptibility towards critically important antimicrobials (CIA).
- CIAs and Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobials (HPCIA) are the categories of antimicrobial agents identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) based on their importance in human medicine and the urgency to preserve their effectiveness.
- Erythromycin, an antibiotic from the class of macrolides and ketolides, is classified as an HPCIA.
- Escherichia coli was identified as the most commonly occurring pathogen, followed by Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii and Staphylococcus aureus.
Misuse of antibiotics:
- A 2021 report by Delhi-based think tank, Centre for Science and Environment, highlighted the misuse of several antibiotics from these classes in food-producing animals in India. It identified 27 different types of CIAs from seven classes, including macrolides and ketolides, third generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones, which were found to be used in dairy, poultry and aquaculture for both therapeutic and non-therapeutic purposes.